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The Torah In Haiku: Mishpatim

The Torah In Haiku: Mishpatim


 
 
To meet the Divine
Make sure you're fully present
Avoid distractions
 
 
Exodus 24:12
God said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the teachings and commandments which I have inscribed to instruct them."
 
Every word of Torah is important. When a passage seems unnecessary we must look for a deeper meaning. In this verse the question is why it's necessary for God to tell Moses to "be there" (in some translations to "wait there") after instructing him to come to God on Sinai?
 
In his "Davar Acher" for this week's Ten Minutes of Torah Rabbi Daniel Feder shares the teaching of Rabbi Menachem Mendl of Kotzk, " ... this is proof that a person can exert tremendous effort to reach the top of a mountain . . . but his head may be elsewhere. The main thing is not the ascent but being there, and only there."
 
Our Divine encounters often come after a metaphorical climb. With the hard work behind us, we need to change our focus to experience the holiness of those moments.
 
Just before a Bar or Bat Mitzvah service begins at our congregation, the Rabbi gathers the family outside the sanctuary doors. After years of studying and leaning to read Torah - not to mention the more mundane matters of guest lists, invitations and seating charts - a child is about to lead worship, teach Torah and accept the obligations of being a Jewish adult.
 
The Rabbi encourages the family put all the preparation behind them and helps them avoid the temptation to respond to the greetings of late arriving guests making their way into the sanctuary. "The moment" has arrived, and it's time to focus on what's going to happen inside those sanctuary doors. Those families who are able to "be there, and only there" are the ones who most often encounter the Divine and experience holiness in the accomplishments of their children.
 
It's the same for other important events in our lives. From the birth of a child, to graduations, weddings and even mourning the loss of a loved one, we are more likely to have moments of holiness when we do our best to be fully present without distraction.

Ed Nickow is a teacher and member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Chai in Long Grove, IL. He blogs at The Torah in Haiku.

Ed Nickow

Published: 2/05/2016

Categories: Learning, Torah Study
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